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Change Of Opinion: Surrogate Crystal Kelley Made Right Decision

Ashima Agrawal |
March 17, 2013 | 8:20 a.m. PDT


The child, like the one in this picture, was born with a cleft lip and palate, along with many other serious health problems. (King97tut, Wikimedia Commons)
The child, like the one in this picture, was born with a cleft lip and palate, along with many other serious health problems. (King97tut, Wikimedia Commons)
Last week, I wrote an article explaining why surrogate mother Crystal Kelley should have followed the child's parents' wishes and aborted the fetus rather than giving birth to the baby. I recently decided to entirely alter my position on the issue.

Kelley agreed to become pregnant with a couple's child, but after the second ultrasound, she and the couple discovered that the child would be born with a cleft lip and palate, a cyst in her brain and serious heart defects. The couple wanted Kelley to abort the unborn child, but she refused, stating that it would be against her moral and religious views to do so.

Then, the couple offered her $10,000 to abort the fetus, an offer she rejected. Though she said she would consider it for $15,000, she now claims that she immediately regretted saying that, because she would not abort the child for any amount of money. She fled to Michigan where she had the baby girl, and the child was adopted by a family that knows how to raise a child with special needs.

My initial opinion on this issue was defined by the following thoughts:

  • The most important consideration in the decision of whether or not to abort the child was the child's later suffering and lack of normalcy in life
  • The couple had the right to decide if their child should or should not be aborted, and the couple made the right decision, in that the child should have been aborted
  • Politics and religion often cloud the issue of what the child's life would be like if he or she was not aborted, so Kelley should have put aside her religious views

However, after considering the issue further, I came to disagree with pretty much everything that I wrote.

First of all, just because a child is born with a defect does not mean that the child won't have a normal life. Thousands of children are born each year with birth defects such as cleft lips and palates, which can be corrected by simple surgical procedures. Even brain cysts can be easily removed by well-trained brain surgeons, if the cysts are in the right location. After such surgeries, who can say that children born with birth defects aren't going to have a normal life? Besides, what actually defines a "normal" life? Just because I have medical issues, or because one of my friends has a heart defect, does that mean we are not normal - that we sould have been aborted, too? My friend was expected to live a short life, and yet she is now almost twenty and living life to the fullest.

Second of all, who really has the right to decide whether or not to take away someone's life? If my parents had known in advance all of the medical issues I would face after I was born, and they decided to abort me as a result, I wouldn't be here writing this article. This may seem obvious, but it's important. The couple's child ended up adopted into a family willing and able to take care of her. Everyone should learn from the goodness of that family.

Third of all, our political and religious views define us. Next Easter, after months of preparation, I will be baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. How can I say that Kelley should have put her religious views aside, when I myself cannot? None of us can ignore what we believe. Kelley was doing what she believed to be right - what she believed God wanted her to do. She saved a child’s life instead of terminating it, and that little girl will be forever grateful for her kindness.

Like I illustrated in my previous article, surrogacy is a complicated topic, simply due to the fuzzy boundary between the surrogate mother’s body and her right to decide what happens to it, and the couple’s child and their right to decide what happens to it. To avoid situations like Kelley's in the future, women who do not believe in abortion should not be surrogate mothers, and the parents should not ask someone who is against abortion to be a surrogate if they themselves believe in the right to abortion. In Kelley's case, the parents and the surrogate mother are both at fault, because it seems that they did not even discuss the issue of abortion before they reached their agreement. At least we as a society can learn from this case.


Read an article explaining Contributor Ashima Agrawal's original opinion on this issue, "Surrogate Mother's Baby Should Never Have Been Born," here.

Reach Contributor Ashima Agrawal here.



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